Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Bank launches free services for start-up firms

By Heather McGarrigle

Ulster Bank today announced it will provide free banking and new services to start-up and early-stage companies.

The bank said newly established and young businesses would have transaction fees waived for two years when they become customers of the bank. They can also avail of a loan of up to £25,000 for business development purposes without having to back it with assets.

Northern Ireland's banks have been accused of failing to lend to small businesses. Henry Elvin, Ulster Bank's head of small businesses, was among banking chiefs who last week gave evidence to a joint Assembly committee meeting between the Finance and Personnel and Enterprise Trade and Investment committees on bank lending.

A 12-month subscription to Ulster Bank's online cash management system, Bankline, will also be included in Ulster Bank's new package launched today.

In addition, customers will be given free access to a new online learning centre for small firms, providing interactive training through Ulster Bank's initiative.

Mr Elvin said: "We want to play a key role in helping to create a new generation of vibrant, successful local businesses and to help them develop to their full potential.

"The economy is still fragile and we think now is the right time to provide additional help."

Mr Elvin defended Ulster Bank at last week's committee meeting saying: "What we are focusing on in the bank is that the small to medium enterprise sector is the very sector you want us to focus on."

The bank also recently unveiled increased Saturday opening and reduced queuing times.

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.